Posts Tagged ‘SAHM’

The Five Stages of Cleaning My Bathroom

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

1. Denial and Isolation
Oh, this bathroom really isn’t THAT dirty. I mean, it’s a bathroom, it’s not like anyone’s going to be eating off the floor. I have 2 kids and am very busy and important. I’m sure everyone’s baseboards could use a good wipe-down. That smell isn’t pee, it’s just general bathroom smell and as soon as I remember to light a candle in here it won’t even be noticeable. No honey, I don’t really want to have anyone over for a cookout. No, let’s have a playdate at YOUR house. No guy doing the estimate for the yard work you CAN’T come in and use our bathroom. Sorry.

2. Anger
WHY is this bathroom such a mess?! I’m certainly not the one who keeps peeing on the floor. I already spend my days cleaning up crap, why should the bathroom be my job!? I don’t wanna! It’s not fair and I’m not going to stand for it!

3. Bargaining
Ok, maaaaaaybe I should pour some bleach in the toilet. And take out the trash. And clean the hair out of the shower drain. But then I get to go take a nap. Or read a book. Or take a nap AND read a book because it’s important that I keep my strength up. You know, for PARENTING. I bet I could get E to clean the bathroom if I do ALLLL the dishes for the next week. Month. Year. TEN YEARS.

4. Depression
I hate this bathroom. We should just rip the whole thing out and install a new, magical, self-cleaning bathroom. Like those port-a-potty things in Europe. Man, I wish I could go to Europe. I never get to go ANYWHERE. My life is terrible.

5. Acceptance
Fine, there, the bathroom is clean. Enough. For now. Just don’t make me ever do it again, OK?

 

Mrs. Homemaker or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Laundry

Friday, February 11th, 2011

I had a MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH this week. It is epic. Truly life-changing. I actually cannot believe it took me this long to get here, because now it seems so totally obvious. Are you ready to hear about it? Are you super excited?

OK, here goes…

I am a homemaker.

I KNOW, RIGHT?

I’m serious though. In 6 1/2 years of marriage (the last 2 1/2 of which I have not had an outside job) I have never thought of myself as someone who is in charge of a home. I thought of all the stuff that keeps this place running – cleaning and laundry and cooking and dishes – as CHORES, chores I hated, chores I tried to avoid. I spent a lot of time and energy being pissed off that I was expected to do these things. It’s because I’m a WOMAN. It’s so SEXIST and UNFAIR and DAMN THE MAN for pushing me into this gender stereotype!

Until I realized wait a minute…I wasn’t pushed into a role I was unhappy with. I wanted this. Yes it’s true that the other option – me working and E staying home – wasn’t ever really on the table (the Navy doesn’t exactly let you quit just because your wife is tired of doing the dishes) but his job stability and paycheck was part of why I signed up for this marriage. Wait, that sounds bad. What I mean is knowing E could provide for me and our future children was one of the things I liked about him from the start. Wait, that still sounds bad. Before we even GOT married we decided I would stay home once we had kids. We just forgot to negotiate out what “staying home” included.

(If you still think the previous paragraph makes me sound like a gold-digger, let me assure you, there is no gold to dig. There is maybe a frappuchino or two and possibly a new toilet seat – SO SEXY – to replace the broken one. But no gold.)

My “ah-ha” moment came the other night while I was trying to make dinner. I say “trying” because it is difficult to cook while a toddler throws his entire weight against the back of your knees and screams for more milk. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but you’re much more likely to cut off a finger and I kind of like having a nice even number. So, in a conscious act of gentle patient parenting (something I am working on SO HARD with mixed success and/or results) I got down on Little Evan’s level and said, “Honey, Mommy needs you to go play in the family room. Mommy is making dinner right now, which is part of her job. You know how I watch you during the day while daddy works? Well, right now I need Daddy to watch you while Mommy works.”

It was like a light bulb went off in my head. MY JOB. Making dinner is my job. Housekeeping is my job. I should have work hours and a lunch break. I should be allowed to do my job without the toddler climbing up my butt. People DO get paid for these things – a cook, a housekeeper – so why shouldn’t I value my work?

(Of course, none of that applies to motherhood. Kids don’t give a crap about my stupid “job” theory, especially when they need something something right now NOW I WANT IT NOW MAMA SOMETHING FOR ME NOOOOOOW. That also means parenting duties during hours we are both home are still 50/50. I’m not some kind of June Cleaveresque mommy martyr.)

So while E is off doing…nuclear Navy stuff, I am here doing the house stuff. There’s stuff that needs to be done every day, stuff I hate to do, stuff that has to be done a zillion times a day, and stuff that only needs to be done every once in a while. So I made a list. Actually, I made three lists:

Do these every day
– Laundry
– Dinner
– Empty and clean sink (my tribute to the FlyLady method and the ONLY part of her plan I’m adopting)
– Put all the toys in the toy box
– Feed animals
– Scoop cat box

Do one of these each day
– Clean a bathroom
– Sweep/mop downstairs
– Vacuum upstairs
– Dust
– Clean out fridge
– Declutter flat surfaces

Do these as needed
– Menu plan
– Grocery shop
– Buy bulk items (toilet paper, diapers, etc)

Yesterday I scrubbed down the powder room and it felt AWESOME. Today I straightened up the dining room and feel FANTASTIC. If someone were to stop by for an impromptu dinner I could not only feed them, I could serve it to them on a clean table. The best part is I am no longer overwhelmed and angry about all this housework. When I’m not spending all my time putting it off and sending E angry glares for not helping it doesn’t really take that long to load a dishwasher. Of course, on the weekends there WILL be helping. And when I am sick/need a scheduled day off (and there WILL be scheduled days off) I’ll have a concrete to-do list E can follow. It’s not fancy and it’s not worthy of a book deal (or even an Excel spreadsheet) but I do feel like this is a major change for the better.

Secret bonus part of my new “job?” I get paid in impromptu shopping trips to Target for new black flats and bright colored tights, guilt free.

Now excuse me, I have to go shine my sink.

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted – Aesop

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

Since becoming a  stay-at-home-baby-incubator/stay-at-home-mother/both I’ve experienced every possible emotion regarding my work/lack of work/OMG SO MUCH WORK, ranging from incredible joy to mind-numbing frustration.

This is the best job in the world, why would I EVER want to do something else?!

God staying home is boring. How many years until kindergarten?

I love spending every second of every day with Baby Evan!

This one-income thing SUCKS. Maybe daycare would be worth looking into.

What do you mean I don’t “WORK”. YOU THINK THIS ISN’T WORK!?!?

I don’t think these feelings are the least bit unusual. It’s a rare person who is always happy with every second of their work or home life, even if they’re doing something they love. You don’t even have to be a mom to have days when your job feels pointless and frustrating and you think you must be missing out on something really awesome, some calling that would make you happy every day, some magical fantastic occupation that other people have but you do not. Dissatisfaction is part of the human condition and our ability to imagine how much BETTER things could be sometimes gets in the way of remember how much WORSE things could be.

You know what cures a good old-fashioned case of the woe-is-me’s? Doing good.

This weekend, I spent a few hours helping set up, working at, and breaking down a tag sale my friend April organized as a fundraiser for the Women’s Center of South Eastern Connecticut. It’s part of her Mommies on a Mission initiative, encouraging members of our Luna Mom’s Club to volunteer their time and talents for good causes, which she runs in addition to owning the Stroller Strides franchise, raising her two kids AND being a dedicated Navy wife. (April is kind of amazing. OK, REALLY amazing.) We raised over $800 in cash plus donations of women’s and children’s clothing for families who have been displaced due to domestic violence and need a new start. It’s amazing that you can turn a bunch of old junk into that kind of support with just a few volunteers and a Saturday morning. Playing just a small part in that good deed has given me the warm-fuzzies all weekend. Now I understand why so many otherwise unemployed housewives run charity events/foundations/galas/raffles. Those ladies-who-lunch are really onto something, even if I still can’t help making fun of their oh-no-my-maid-forgot-to-iron-the-sheets type problems.

I actually can’t wait for our next mission so I can get that happy, satisfied feeling of helping someone else again. Even if you don’t have time to organize or volunteer at an in-person event, doing good can brighten your outlook:

Jill from Baby Rabies’ #helpSam fundraiser reached an incredible total of over $9,000 in 3 weeks, thanks to the generosity of some great companies, bloggers and random internet strangers. I spent an afternoon tweet-spamming every celebrity and semi-celebrity I could think of and knowing I helped just a teeny tiny bit brought me to tears when I saw the incredible video Sam’s family created as a thank you.The giveaways are closed but the Paypal account remains open and donations are always appreciated.

Raising Madison is currently running a fundraiser for Keegan, an 8 month old with Medulloblastoma. She’s got some incredible companies on board (hello, who doesn’t want an ERGO?) and not a huge number of entries so PLEASE go over take a look. Just $5 is enough to help make a difference.

The March of Dimes is always accepting donations to make sure all babies are born healthy and full-term. Our team raised $3,000 during our March for Babies back in April and I loved every second of that damp, muddy walk. I’m already looking forward to next year’s event and would encourage everyone to find a walk in their area.

If you know of any other current fundraisers or causes, please link them in the comments. I would love to bring any attention I can to more people who are trying to live by the rule that small deeds make a world of difference.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
-Margaret Mead

One is not born into the world to do everything but to do something.
-Henry David Thoreau

I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.
-Mahatma Gandhi

Oh hey, where did this wall come from?

Friday, January 8th, 2010

Can someone PLEASE help me explain to my husband how hard and exhausting and exactly like a job taking care of a baby is? How although on the surface it might look a lot easier than driving to an office every day, in the end you get to leave an office but you never get to leave a baby? And how even if you don’t really, truly, 100% believe that being a stay at home mom is work it is NEVER a good idea to accuse your wife of “playing” all day while you’re at your Real Job? And not just because when you say shit like that your wife might storm out of the house and leave you dinner-less, but because it really hurts her and makes her feel useless and unappreciated? Yes, please help me explain that.

(Sidenote for fairness: in my uncompleted posts queue right now is an entry about how awesome E was during The Great Sickness of 2009 and our holiday travels. He slept with the can’t-put-him-down-or-he-screams baby almost every night and did at least 50% of the daytime comforting. He’s also helping with the night weaning, which proves he cares about my sanity at least a little, as it doesn’t matter to HIM if the baby nurses all night. But yesterday I did not care about any of that.)

From the point of view of someone who doesn’t have kids, my day looks easy. Get up, eat breakfast, workout class, hang out with friends, lunch, some housework, errands, computer time, start dinner, serve dinner, clean up kitchen, watch some tv, do a little knitting and then bed. Yawn, a life of leisure.

But when you do all that stuff with a baby it looks like this: Up at 6 am with baby, nurse baby, change baby, dress baby, make sure baby is occupied long enough to go pee, rescue dog from baby, run upstairs to brush teeth and put on clothes, clean up baby spit up, get the baby a snack, clean up snack, clean up baby, change baby, eat an apple, nurse baby, get baby and all baby’s stuff in the car, take baby to baby-themed stroller workout class, take baby to breastfeeding group, entertain baby while trying to have adult conversation, put baby back in car, take baby home, try to get baby to nap, nurse baby, rock baby, nurse baby, baby falls asleep, jump in shower, start laundry, finally find something to eat…and that’s just before noon. I could keep going but I’m trying to finish this post before the baby wakes up from his nap. As you can see, baby-free time is precious around here.

Now from E’s point of view, at least 70% of that “work” is my own fault. I don’t HAVE to go to Stroller Strides. I don’t HAVE to go to breastfeeding group. I don’t HAVE to go to the store with the baby. I can stay home. I can run errands on the weekends. I could, quite easily, never leave the house. Like, duh, that’s why pizza delivery was invented. I could also quite easily go TOTALLY FRICKIN INSANE and end up babbling incomprehensibly about poopoo and diapeys and numnums and nappy naps. I’ve already used all those words at least once this week. The edge is near.

It doesn’t help my case that on the weekends I try to give myself as much time off as possible, so E sees me sitting on the couch while the baby naps and imagines that’s how I spend all my days. Never mind the clean socks in his drawer and the toys in the toy box and the milk in the fridge and the food on the table. Never mind the baby is dressed and fed and happy. Never mind my lack of a full night’s sleep for the last 9 months. Obviously if I have time to knit a sock mitten wrist warmer AND maintain a blog, taking care of a baby is cake. And since our not-ever-officially-negotiated-but-status-quo relationship is I’m in charge of the household, why should he have to do more work after his Real Job is done? What do I mean I can’t unload the dishwasher and watch the baby at the same time?

I know I have friends and readers who are thinking to themselves RIGHT NOW that I got myself into this and it’s really my fault for having such an old-fashioned, gender-stereotypical marriage. You’re thinking you’re way too smart to marry a guy who doesn’t have a truly feminist and shared view of parenting so you won’t ever feel like this. And I hope you’re right. But I think every parent in every kind of relationship ends up feeling unappreciated at some point, be it every day of their marriage or just for a few hours once in a while.

The hardest part of this whole thing is sometimes I feel like I DON’T do enough. I feel like since I don’t earn a paycheck I need to earn the right to stay home. I feel like dishes in the sink or unfolded laundry or a funny smell coming from the living room (which turned out to be BURNT CAT VOMIT from where the cat threw up on a radiator) are big black marks against me in my Wife & Mother Weekly Performance Review. I mean, there are moms who have three kids and a real job and a house and a dog and still manage to make organic, homegrown, vegetarian lasagna every night with time left over to volunteer at the soup kitchen. I definitely don’t work as hard as that mom. I don’t want to work as hard as that mom. I want to be happy. I just want to be happy.

Not Much

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

Last night I was having a lovely talk with an old high school friend when he mentioned someone we used to know was teaching college while working on her doctorate. While also raising two daughters. By herself. Now, this is someone I remember best as getting in trouble for sneaking her boyfriend INTO her house after getting grounded for sneaking OUT of her house. Our deepest conversation ever was a lesson in visible panty lines. And did I mention she’s younger than I am? The whole situation just made me feel like I was staring at a giant sign that says “Welcome to Inadequacyville! Population: YOU”.

No matter how much I love being a mom – especially a stay at home mom – it just doesn’t feel like an accomplishment. You don’t have to be smart to have a baby. In fact, stupidity really seems to work in reproduction’s favor COUGH16andpregnantCOUGH. Sure it may be hard to be a GOOD mom but you don’t get any fancy letters after your name for the three hours you spent caring for a sick baby last night or your infinite patience cleaning up spit-up or the pain you went through for the sake of breastfeeding. Ok SURE you get a happy, (mostly) healthy, well-adjusted child but the only people who really appreciate that are their teachers, future spouse and the person who sits next to them at work some day. Blah. Would anyone even notice if all I wrote for the rest of this post is whine whine whine complain complain so ungrateful for all I have annoying self absorption whine whine whiiiine?

This is why the only people who look forward to their high school reunions are Bill Gates and Barack Obama.